Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Yesterday, Alexandra Levit (@alevit) and DeVry University (@DeVryUniv) hosted a Twitter chat where they talked about how the American Jobs Act affects job seekers, and tips for finding a job in today’s economy. Not surprisingly, the Twit-versation turned to small business, networking, and interview prep, among other themes. This chat was so relevant to job seekers in the Urban Interns audience that we wanted to summarize some of the advice given. Thanks so much to DeVry and Alexandra for providing this great session! Also active in the conversation were @Keppie_Careers, @DeborahShane, @ValueIntoWords, @KellerGraduate, @MaggieMistal, @MRGottschalk, and @tweetmyjobs, who all contributed to the Q&A.
First on the agenda was what the American Jobs Act means for job seekers. Alexandra feels that more opportunities will be created in small business, because the Act reduces payroll tax for small business by 50%, as well as construction, teaching, and public service. Health care, teaching and food were also mentioned as growing fields.
Where should job seekers look for these opportunities? Chambers of Commerce, locally sponsored events, and networking organizations. It’s important to get to know business owners personally and speak to their business’s mission and how you can help them achieve it. Connect with business owners via social media, but don’t be a networking stalker!
Personal branding is really important for job seekers. Show the business owner that you are an expert in your field, and demonstrate how you can help them specifically. You should be able to communicate what you do and recent quantifiable results in 30 seconds. Remember that even if you don’t have experience in a particular industry, all industries need people in different types of functions like HR, finance, marketing, operations, etc.
In preparation for your interview, research the business, network one on one, and create materials that showcase your value proposition. Create a functional resume that highlights your relevant skills. (Though there was some debate around the idea of a traditional chronological resume vs. a tailored resume!) Be able to answer the question: why do you want to work for a small business? Demonstrate that you’re ready and willing to help them grow. Small business owners want candidates who have the ability to wear many hats simultaneously. You need to demonstrate enthusiasm for learning new things, and being a team player who manages time effectively. After your interview, call and then send a handwritten note. Small business owners love a personal touch, but don’t overdo it – they’re busy, after all!